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Permanent Punishments

WHEREAS, 'permanent punishment' laws erode the successful re-entry and full participation of formerly incarcerated persons into society through thousands of pieces of legislation nationwide that:  

  • Prevent the professional licensure required for many professions;
  • Prohibit the formerly incarcerated from serving as the executor of a loved one's estate;
  • Block access to quality education, quality jobs, safe and affordable housing, and more; and

WHEREAS, millions of people leave prisons every year hoping that their punishment has ended, only to encounter a combination of laws, rules, and biases forming barriers that block them from jobs, housing, and fundamental participation in our political, economic, and cultural life; and

WHEREAS, research including reporting from the Open Society Foundation, the Brennan Center for Justice, and, inJune 2020, the "Never Fully Free" Report released by Heartland Alliance, all highlight the effects of 'permanent punishment' laws including:

  • Individuals who have been formerly incarcerated are at a significantly higher risk of homelessness; and
  • Prior criminal convictions greatly reduce an individual's earning prospects with formerly incarcerated individuals earning, on average, $20,000 less annually than their peers without a conviction by the age of retirement; and

WHEREAS, black people and other people of color experience disparate and inequitable outcomes in the United States criminal legal system, including rate of arrests, convictions, and sentencing which ultimately concentrates the negative social and economic impacts of 'permanent punishments' in Black communities; and

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the NAACP calls for legislative bodies on the local, state, and federal levels, in their respective jurisdictions, to repeal 'permanent punishment' laws and to adequately fund the development of second-chance programs that support the transitioning of formerly incarcerated persons back into communities.